As the newly elected secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, I traveled the country this fall, talking with workers and hearing their concerns. The economic crisis is causing a lot of pain. So many people have no jobs, no health care—and many are losing their homes. And as I looked into the faces of young workers, the reality hit home that these young people are part of the first generation in recent history likely to be worse off than their parents.
This is a tragedy.
The AFL-CIO and our community affiliate, Working America, recently surveyed young workers—and I’m not talking about 17- and 18-year-olds. I’m talking about 18- to 34-year-olds. In the past 10 years, young workers have suffered disproportionately from the downturn in the economy:
• One in three young workers is worried about being able to find a job—let alone a full-time job with benefits.
• Only 31 percent make enough money to cover their bills and put some aside—that is 22 percentage points worse than it was 10 years ago.
• Nearly half worry about having more debt than they can handle.
• One in three still lives at home with parents.
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